Writing samples: Sociocultural

The following section includes annotated samples of responses to exam questions - as well as strategies for answering questions based on the command terms. The responses are not from the IB.  They are based on work done in-class by students, or they are created specifically for the site. Often the sample is designed to provide examples of common mistakes or in order to show something that should be done for higher marks. 

There is no definitive list of questions for this curriculum - so the list of potential questions below is not exhaustive.  However, most of the questions will fall within the list that has been provided below. The questions are grouped by topic and include both SAQ and ERQ (essay) questions.

For the ERQ responses, students will need to include two or more pieces of research. In most cases, a single example will be asked for the SAQ questions.

Potential exam questions: Generic


  1. Explain the use of one research method in one study using the sociocultural approach to understanding human behaviour. 
  2. Explain one ethical consideration relevant to one study using a sociocultural approach to understanding human behaviour.

* It is unclear in the new curriculum whether the questions on ethics and methods will be asked on the "approaches" level or the "topic" level.  This list assumes that they will be asked on the approach level.


  1. Discuss the use of one research method in the sociocultural approach to understanding human behaviour.
  2. Discuss ethical considerations relevant to using a sociocultural approach.

Potential exam questions: The individual and the group


  • Explain Social Identity Theory, making use of one study.
  • Explain one study of Social Identity Theory.
  • Explain Social Cognitive Theory, making use of one study.
  • Explain one theory of stereotypes, making use of one study.
  • Explain one theory of the origins of stereotypes, making use of one study.
  • Explain one study that shows one effect of stereotypes on behaviour.


Each of the questions above may be asked using the command terms discuss, evaluate, contrast or "to what extent" as appropriate.

  • Evaluate research on Social Identity Theory.
  • Evaluate Social Identity Theory.
  • Discuss research on Social Cognitive Theory.
  • Evaluate Social Cognitive Theory.
  • Discuss two theories of stereotyping.
  • Discuss effects of stereotyping on behaviour.

Potential exam questions: Cultural origins of behaviour and cognition


  • Describe one cultural dimension.
  • Explain one study of one cultural dimension.
  • Explain one study of one effect of culture on behaviour.
  • Explain one study of one effect of culture on cognition.


Each of the questions above may be asked using the command terms discuss, evaluate, contrast or "to what extent" as appropriate.

  • Discuss one or more cultural dimensions.
  • Evaluate research on one cultural dimension.
  • Discuss research on the effects of culture on behaviour.
  • Discuss the potential effects of culture on cognition.

Potential exam questions: Cultural influences on individual attitudes, identity and behaviour


  • Explain one study of enculturation.
  • Explain one study of acculturation.


Each of the questions above may be asked using the command terms discuss, evaluate, contrast or "to what extent" as appropriate.

  • Evaluate research on enculturation.
  • Discuss research on acculturation.
  • Discuss research on the effects of culture on behaviour.
  • Discuss research of the effects of culture on individual attitudes.
  • Discuss research of the effects of culture on identity.

Potential exam questions: Globalization and behaviour (HL only)

ERQs only

Each of the questions above may be asked using the command terms discuss, evaluate, contrast or "to what extent" as appropriate.

It is not really clear how these question could linguistically be combined with the "topics" as they are written.  So, this is a rather short list.

  • Discuss how globalization may affect behaviour.
  • Discuss the interaction between local and global influences on behaviour.
  • Evaluate research methods used to study the influence of globalization on behaviour.
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Comments 23

Suheyla Acar 28 February 2018 - 16:42

Hi John,

I have a question, On the updates section says "conformity" no longer assessed. However you have this topic in your unit planning. So my first question is, is it going to be assessed or not?
And my second question is, again on the update section says "attribution" is no longer assessed but the new published Oxford IV book has a section of FAE, UAT etc.. So could you please enlighten me on these matters. Thank you in advance.

John Crane 1 March 2018 - 13:54

Dear Suheyla,

There will be no direct question on conformity on the test. However, there will be questions, for example, on the use of research methods (or ethics) in the study of the individual and the group. So, I chose conformity as an area of focus to cover this material - as well as address SIT. As you will see in the guidance section of the guide, conformity is one of the suggested areas of teaching.

I do not have the OUP book, but attribution there will not be directly assessed. It is the same issue as conformity. See my response above. Regards - John

Isabel McGann 5 March 2018 - 00:40

Hi John, when looking at how cognition influences behaviour and cognition. Can they ask this in the same prompt? I know they can be asked individually- eg explain one effect of culture on behaviour. But in an ERQ or SAQ can they leave the 'and' in and ask for both. So your ERQ would be covering both behaviour and cognition?

John Crane 5 March 2018 - 20:07

Dear Isabel, it is highly unlikely that they would be asked both because the question would be too big. In addition, the IB considers cognition a behaviour, so this is rather redundant. An SAQ would either focus on one or the other.

Isabel McGann 5 March 2018 - 21:20

Thanks John, I thought it would be too big also. Having two prompts is rather redundant

Dabalina Chatterjee 9 April 2018 - 10:37

Dear John,
the question Discuss research on the effects of culture on behaviour - Berry can be one important study as it explains role of culture on behaviour. I am not very sureof the second study.

John Crane 9 April 2018 - 13:52

Dear Dabalina

Students can use any study of culture - for example, Cole and Scribner or Kearins. Memory is considered a behaviour by IB, so this cuts down on the research. Remember, too, that in the options you may end up teaching the role of culture on pro-social behaviour or on abnormal behaviour. These are all possible answers on Paper 1.

Sarah Healey 19 April 2018 - 05:35

Dear John,

Thank you for all these suggested questions. You have phrased one question on stereotypes as "Explain one theory of stereotyping.". In the content part of the guide it mentions "The development and effect of stereotypes should be addressed with reference to one or more example.". I wonder if two separate questions regarding development and effects may also be asked?

John Crane 19 April 2018 - 07:39

Dear Sarah

Specific information from the content column cannot be asked on the exam. Students will be able to choose which approach to take.

Isabel McGann 27 April 2018 - 03:46

Hi John, looking for some guidance for RM under each "topic". We have finished the individual and the group. For the remaining two topics (excluding HL) what studies have you used for each RM? For culture I will use Berry for an experiment. Unsure of what Kulkofsky really is.. was considering Hofstede and questionnaire/survey as the RM but unsure if it is that strong in terms of critical thinking/arguments.

The next topic needing assistance as well. What ones will you use for each topic?

John Crane 28 April 2018 - 05:54

Dear Isabel

Please see "unit planning" under each unit. (See the menu). All that information is there.

Isabel McGann 29 April 2018 - 23:27

Hi John,

I have looked at each lesson plan and the unit plan but still struggling for clarity on what study is what in terms of RM for the two culture topics. I know you have RM for the individual and the group topic- but not the others?

John Crane 30 April 2018 - 04:55

Dear Isabel

Students should be able to discuss studies in terms of their research method - so I don't "teach" research method studies for each of the topics. For culture, for example, Hofstede carried out surveys, Kearins and Berry quasi-experiments. For acculturation/enculturation, you will see Fagot used a case study and there are experiments listed. I would always have students try to identify the method used for any study used in order to see if they could answer the question. My understanding, however, is that the IB will most likely set questions that ask about research methods used in the "sociocultural approach" as the language would be clearer and it will avoid the problem of assessment of where things are in the boxes.

Isabel McGann 30 April 2018 - 06:12

Thanks for the clarification John, I agree it would be simpler 'at the sociocultural aproach'. Do you know if this is anywhere in writing that the RM and ethics will be asked like this rather than based on the topics. I am concerned that some examiners will not accept 'questionnaires' as a RM as it could be considered a method of data collection. Because ideally I would like to use Kulkofsky for questionnaires but am worried about that.. or would Kulkofsky be classified as correlational but using questionnaires to establish this relationship?

John Crane 1 May 2018 - 07:56

Dear Isabel

Questionnaires can be both a research method (Kulkoffsky) and a data collection method (Loftus & Palmer). The IB has accepted it in the past and it will not change with the new curriculum. As for the level at which the question will be asked, there is no official clarification. We have asked this repeatedly and not received a response from the IB. This is part of the clarifications that we are all waiting for.

Isabel McGann 2 May 2018 - 00:39

Thanks John, hard not to think yourself down a rabbit hole sometimes with this syllabus! Hopefully we get clarification soon

Tripti Rathore 10 August 2018 - 06:29

Dear John,
How are the students suppose to begin Globalization answer. Are you going to upload sample answers for HL extensions

John Crane 10 August 2018 - 21:24

Dear Tripti

All essays have the same format, regardless of the question. There will not be samples for every single question as it is just not possible. There will eventually be some samples of some of the potential questions for the extensions, but your students should be able to write them based on the model essays that already exist.

Beth Wasylyk 20 September 2018 - 03:52

Hi John,
I noticed in the description of the content for Stereotypes that students need to know both origins and effects. Would "Discuss the effect(s) of stereotyping on behaviour" be a potential ERQ? Thanks!

John Crane 21 September 2018 - 05:17

Dear Beth,

As of the latest clarification, yes, this is a possible question. I have amended the questions above.

Sarah Leonardis 26 September 2018 - 14:07

Hi John. From the SAQs above and the specimen paper, it appears they can tailor the question to origins or formation or effects of stereotyping. Do you think those are fair questions considering the way the curriculum has been explained? I didn't realize they could be more specific in one of the content areas. Thanks.

Sarah Leonardis 26 September 2018 - 14:08

Sorry, John. I just read the comment above mine and it appears they can ask it.

John Crane 27 September 2018 - 05:07

Dear Sarah

Yes, they can. But this was the result of clarifications in the guide. It will be effective only as of the 2020 exams.